When the notoriously prickly New York Times Sunday Book Review calls your novel "extraordinary" in the first sentence of its review, you know you've done well for yourself. Even more so when that descriptor is part of one of hundreds or possibly thousands of rhapsodic pieces declaring the book — in this case, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena — among the best of 2013. Also: When you're 29, and this is your first book. Ever. Constellation — a heartrending index of the physical and figurative wounds left after the Chechen Wars of the Nineties — is a life-affirming, gravity-defying, achingly imaginative, utterly singular novel, on the order of Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky. "Extraordinary," indeed.
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